Julien: ‘possibility’ injured d-men could be back Sunday

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A couple of days off couldn’t have come at a better time for the banged-up Bruins.

Per the Boston Globe, it’s possible one or more of the Bruins’ injured defensemen — Dennis Seidenberg (lower body), Andrew Ference (foot) or Wade Redden (undisclosed) — could be back in the lineup for Sunday’s Game 2 against the Rangers.

“A little early to say,” B’s head coach Claude Julien said today. “It is two days. And two days in the playoffs makes a big difference as far as getting guys back. There is a possibility. That much I can say. Whether it will or not, too early to say right now.”

Boston beat the Rangers, 3-2 in overtime, last night at TD Garden.

The Bruins’ depleted blue line meant a whopping 38:02 of ice time for captain Zdeno Chara, who also scored once and added an assist. No other Boston player came close to Chara in terms of ice time; Johnny Boychuk was second among d-men, at 26:55.

“The amount of time he’s played, and the players he’s played against,” said Julien in praise of Chara. “He continues to do that, and we appreciate that kind of play from him a lot. This is the kind of thing that you get from Zdeno, and tonight wasn’t any different.”

Per CSN New England, Julien was also very complimentary of the job done by the three young blue-liners, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton.

“There’s no doubt our transition game last night was good,” said Julien. “Whether it was because of [the young defensemen], or whether it was because of our game, they did exactly what they had to do. That’s why I commend them for doing such a great job.

“They didn’t sit on their heels, they didn’t just freeze and try and move the puck standing still. They carried it when they had the ice. There’s no doubt that gave us a really good transition game [in Game 1]. Whether some of the [injured guys] come back or not, we’ve got to keep doing the same thing.”

Devils give Mirco Mueller two-year extension

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The New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000.

Mueller, a first-round draft pick of the Sharks in 2013, has only played 54 NHL games, scoring two goals with four assists. In June, after spending most of 2016-17 in the AHL, San Jose traded the 22-year-old to the Devils.

In New Jersey, Mueller should get a good chance to crack a rebuilding roster.

“Mirco is adding another piece to what we’re trying to build here,” Devils coach John Hynes said, per NJ.com. “He’s a young player, he can play with pace. He’s a very good skater. He’s got size, which is something we need on the back end. He makes a good first pass. He allows you to get out of your own zone because he can break out, he can end plays defensively, get possession, make the pass to be able to transition yourself out of defensive situations.”

The Devils have also re-signed goalie Scott Wedgewood and forward Joseph Blandisi.

Rangers lock up Zibanejad for next five years

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The New York Rangers have locked up a key piece of their future, signing center Mika Zibanejad to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million.

Zibanejad had an arbitration hearing scheduled for today, but that won’t be required anymore.

The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games last season. It was his first year in New York after getting traded from Ottawa for Derick Brassard.

With Derek Stepan in Arizona now, Zibanejad is arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center. Kevin Hayes is in that conversation as well, and perhaps Lias Andersson will be soon.

But getting Zibanejad signed long term was a top priority for GM Jeff Gorton this offseason. Hayes can become a restricted free agent next summer, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later date.

Related: Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season

Avalanche reportedly settle with Nieto, avoiding arbitration

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Matt Nieto won’t need his arbitration hearing on Monday.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nieto has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

Nieto split last season between San Jose and Colorado, which claimed him off waivers in January.

In 43 games for the Avalanche, the 24-year-old forward scored seven goals with four assists.

Nieto was the only Colorado player on this summer’s arbitration list. However, the Avs still have a restricted free agent in Nikita Zadorov, who could be off to the KHL next season.

3 KHL players suspended after testing positive for banned substances

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The International Ice Hockey Federation has announced that three KHL players have been suspended after testing positive for banned substances.

Here’s an excerpt from the KHL’s website:

The IIHF has informed the KHL that three players – forward Danis Zaripov (then with Metallurg Magnitogorsk), defenseman Andrei Konev (Admiral Vladivostok) and defenseman Derek Smith (Medvescak Zagreb) – have tested positive for banned substances.

Derek Smith tested positive for a category S6.а stimulant.

Andrei Konev tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant.

Danis Zaripov tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant plus category S5 diuretics and masking agents.

Zapirov, who was part of Team Russia at the 2010 Olympic Games, has been banned from suiting up in “competitive hockey” until May 22, 2019. Konev will be unable to play until Nov. 19, 2017, while Smith, who is Canadian, will be suspended until Sep. 2, 2018.

Smith, 32, played in 94 NHL games with the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames between 2009-10 and 2013-14.